The Bestie and I were so utterly delighted by Rochelle Adonis’ high tea that when we read about her dessert degustation series, we were in no doubt that they would be nothing short of gastronomic nirvana. So when Rochelle’s fourth degustation was announced, we decided to take the plunge and book ourselves a couple of spots. A very indulgent treat indeed but hey, we’re hard working mummies! :)
We arrived at Rochelle Adonis’ gorgeous studio on time (no mean feat for the Bestie and I, especially as my hubby’s job description for babysitting differed to mine…) and we were greeted by our host for the night, the affable Big Lee. Unfortunately Rochelle herself couldn’t be there but Big Lee and co-host Romana assured us that they and the magical duo of chefs would uphold her high standards.
Our places on Rochelle’s enormous marble table was set beautifully and the array of cutlery hinted at the many amazing courses that lay ahead. Big Lee took charge of our BYO champers (Moet Rosé Impérial; perfect for these such occasions involving lashings of sweetness!) and poured the Bestie and I a glass each while we waited for some late arrivals. We had already had a preview of the menu online but reading it through again filled us with much promise and excitement. If only the late people would arrive so we could get on with the show! There were certainly a few dagger-eyes cast their way when they finally arrived.
The first course arrived once the entire table was settled in with their various beverages; an amazing trio of starter desserts which were designed not to immediately hit you in the face with sugar. The marscapone and berry salad with lemon sable and mint was refreshing while its neighbour, a chocolate marquis with olive oil powder and salted lavoche was a beautiful balance of sweet and savoury. Last but not least, the apple ravioli was another example of restrained sweetness and the apple caviar injected an unexpected but pleasant tang in the mouth.
If the first course was considerate in providing a subtle introduction to sugar for the evening, then the second was a stroke of strategic genius. Instead of diving straight into another plate of dessert, we were presented with a savoury course! Although I love desserts, even I was a little daunted by the idea of scoffing sweet things all night so the savouries (a trio of cheese based morsels that could easily represent as tapas) were the perfect foil to the hardcore dessert goodness to come. Given those without a sweet tooth usually opt for a cheese plate after dinner, this course didn’t feel out of place either.
Every degustation needs a palate cleanser and ours came in the form of pomegranate ice and blood orange and Campari sorbet popsicles. Fruity, cold, sweet, sour and bitter all in one hit, this was truly one very grown up iced lolly.
Palates suitably cleansed, we moved on to the next course which on paper presented simply as “Lemon Meringue Pie”, the quotation marks cheekily hinting that all was not what it seemed. Indeed, what came out was a wonderfully deconstucted version of the old favourite. A fluffy meringue pillow filled with tart lemon curd, surrounded by crushed pie base with more lemon curd and a less sweet lemon custard. Unlike a classic lemon meringue pie whose components usually compete for attention by amping up the sweetness, this version had different levels of sweetness which helped you to enjoy each element independently even if you had a mixture of them in your mouth. Magic!
Maintaining the sugar momentum, our second last course was presented to us and it was by far the prettiest item of the night. A beautiful combination of Sauternes poached pear with Valrhona chocolate granita, double vanilla bean ice cream and blackberries. An amazing blend of flavours and again, if I wasn’t such a refined lady, I would have licked the plate.
To conclude the degustation, we were offered tea and coffee and the most exquisite after-dinner (dessert?) treat of raspberry jubes enrobed in dark chocolate. Another fine example of keeping the sugar dose low and preoccupying the taste buds with other tastes and textures so you don’t end up feeling like you’ve eaten nothing but sweets all night (even though you pretty much have!). This jube was one intense burst of raspberry.
Overall, I can’t recommend Rochelle Adonis’ dessert degustation more highly. In less restrained hands, I’m sure a night of multiple desserts would easily degenerate into a coma inducing sugary nightmare but not so with Ms Adonis. She’s well aware that you can indeed have too much of a sweet thing so her offerings give you varying degrees of sweetness. Having savouries early on in the mix was definitely a great way to prepare you for the rest of the night. To give you an indication of how not sugared-out I was post-degustation, I bought some Valrhona marshmallow and biscotti before going home :D
If I was pressed to identify any negatives of the night (and I genuinely am pressed to think of some), then I’d say the wait between some of the courses was a little longer than you’d like but on the other hand, I was peckish so speedy delivery of food was paramount whereas I’m sure other guests appreciated the gaps. Also, if you prefer your dining to be a more intimate affair then you may balk at the idea of sharing one large table with up to eighteen other guests but at the same time, you’re not really squeezed together uncomfortably. The Bestie and I could converse easily without fear of being eavesdropped.
As was the case at high tea, Rochelle Adonis staff are lovely people and very attentive. Our champagne and water were always topped up and it’s clear that they genuinely enjoy working at the studio. They make and serve amazing food and you can really sense that there’s pride in what they do. Rochelle Adonis’ creations are amazing on their own but her staff and studio round the experience off nicely.
The dessert degustation is $120 per head and payment is required on booking. You can bring a bottle of sparkling or sticky along for the ride. If you are thinking about attending Rochelle’s dessert degustation #5 (which I think is in March), I highly recommend that you do not eat dinner beforehand. A few guests were getting ready to wave their white flags at the lemon meringue pie stage as it seems they went out for dinner. I suggest only having a late lunch or a small snack before going to the studio.